Table 1 and Charts 1, 2
- The number of homicide cases recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 8% between 2014-15 and 2015-16, from 62 to 57. This is the lowest annual number of homicide cases since 1976, the first year for which comparable data are available ( Chart 1). While there is a relatively large amount of year on year fluctuation due to the small numbers involved, the figures show an overall downward trend since the mid 2000s.
Chart 1: Cases recorded as homicide by the police, Scotland, 1996-97 to 2015-16
- Homicide cases involving more than one victim are very rare, and none were recorded in 2015-16 ( Table 1). Of the 57 homicide cases recorded, 8 involved more than one accused person.
|Total number of cases||119||115||97||80||98||91||63||61||62||57|
|Cases by number of victims:|
|Total number of victims||120||115||99||82||100||93||63||62||62||57|
|Cases by number of accused:|
|Total number of accused||169||149||132||121||142||127||85||90||80||65|
- In 2015-16, Glasgow City had the highest number of homicide cases (14), representing 25% of the Scottish total. Although victims may not necessarily reside in the local authority where the homicide took place, Glasgow City has more than double its share based on population (11% of the Scottish population  ). Glasgow City has also witnessed a large fall in homicides of 58% since 2006-07, accounting for almost one third of the overall national decrease.
Chart 2: Location of homicide cases, where known, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
- In 2015-16, 63% of homicides occurred within a residential location (dwelling and other residential), 28% in outdoor public places (street, footpath and open outdoor area) and 9% in indoor public places ( Chart 2).
Victims of homicide
Charts 3, 4
- Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the number of homicide victims in Scotland decreased by 8%, from 62 to 57. This is the lowest number of recorded homicide victims for a single twelve month period since 1976, continuing the overall downward trend observed since the mid-2000s ( Chart 3).
Chart 3: Total number of victims and victims by gender, Scotland, 1996-97 to 2015-16
- In 2015-16, there were 41 male victims, representing 72% of all homicide victims. Males are more likely to be victims compared to women, with an overall rate for males of 16 victims per million population, nearly three times the rate for females (six victims per million population).
- Chart 4 shows the victimisation rate by age group and gender for homicides since 2006-07. For males aged 1-70 years, the victimisation rate is much higher than for females. The rate for males peaks in the 21 to 30 age group.
Chart 4: Age profile of homicide victimisation rate by gender, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
Persons accused of homicide
Chart 5, 6
- The number of people accused of homicide has shown an overall downward trend since the mid-2000s ( Chart 5). In 2015-16, there were 65 persons accused of homicide, 15 less than in 2014-15 and the lowest number of persons over this time period.
- The vast majority of persons accused of homicide since 1996-97 have been male, making up 85% of all accused in 2015-16.
Chart 5: Total number of accused and total number accused by gender, Scotland, 1996-97 to 2015-16
- In 2015-16, the total number of individuals accused of homicide equated to 12 per million population. This is the lowest rate recorded in the last ten years.
- For both males and females, the rates for those accused of homicide were highest for the 21 to 30 age group, at 71 per million population and 11 per million population respectively.
- Chart 6 shows that the rates of males accused of homicide per million population were considerably higher across all age groups than for females in the period from 2006-07 to 2015-16.
Chart 6: Age and gender profile of persons accused of homicide per million population, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
- Chart 7 shows that the most common main method of killing in each of the last ten years was with a sharp instrument. This includes 51% of homicide victims in 2015-16. The next most common main method was hitting and kicking, accounting for 19% (11) of homicide victims in 2015-16.
- Homicide by shooting, while very rare, has shown a decrease over the last ten years, from eight in 2006-07 to one case in 2015-16.
Chart 7: Victims of homicide by main method of killing, 2006-07 to 2015-16
Relationship of main accused to victim
- In the majority of cases, the victim and main accused were known to each other, representing 71% of homicide cases solved in 2015-16. The victim and accused were not known to each other in 14 cases (25%). This latter group includes 4 cases where the victim was known to the accused and 10 cases where the victim was not known to the accused. Of those cases where the victim and accused were known to each other, 54% were acquaintances and 13% were partners or ex-partners.
- Chart 8 and Chart 9 show the percentage of homicides for male and female victims by their relationship to the main accused since 2006-07. The highest percentage of male victims was consistently those killed by an acquaintance. For female victims the largest percentage since 2006-07 has tended to be killed by a partner or ex-partner, however in 2015-16 the highest percentage was for killed by an acquaintance (56%). Due to the smaller number of female victims overall, there can be greater fluctuation in the proportions of the accused's relationship to the victim.
- A total of 41 children under the age of 16 years were victims of homicide between 2006-07 and 2015-16 (in cases where there was an accused person). Of these, 68% were killed by one of their parents. Since 2006-07 there have been 14 victims aged under one year old and in all but two cases (where there was an accused person) the main accused was a parent (Table 9).
Chart 8: Male victims of homicide by relationship to main accused, where relationship known, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
Chart 9: Female victims of homicide by relationship to main accused, where relationship known, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
- For all homicides recorded in the last ten years, just over half (51%) of the female victims aged between 16 and 70 years were killed by their partner or ex-partner, 28% were killed by an acquaintance and 7% were killed by a stranger. For male victims aged 16 to 70 years, only 6% were killed by their partner or ex-partner. Just under two thirds (62%) of male victims aged 16 to 70 years were killed by an acquaintance and 18% were killed by a stranger (Table 9).
- Of the 25 people aged over 70 who were victims of homicide between 2006-07 and 2015-16, 17 were female and nine were male. Older people were most likely to be killed by an acquaintance (eight victims, of which six were male). Of the six victims killed by their son or daughter, five were female.
- Chart 10 shows that the majority of all homicide cases (67%) recorded between 2006-07 and 2015-16 involved males killing males. Cases where the main accused and main victim were both female accounted for just 3% of the total number (Table 10).
Chart 10: Relationship between main accused and victim, where relationship known, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
- The most common reasons recorded for committing homicide in the ten year period between 2006-07 and 2015-16, were fight or quarrel, and rage or fury, with half (50%) of all victims in solved cases killed in such circumstances. In 2015-16, this figure was 57% (32 victims), with similar proportions for male and female victims.
- In the period 2006-07 to 2015-16, 81% of all female victims were killed in dwellings, compared with 55% of males. The most common set of circumstances in which females become victims of homicide are in a dwelling, in a rage or fight with a partner or ex-partner (20% of female victims). Location is less of a factor for male victims, whose killings are typically a result of a rage or fight with an acquaintance either in a dwelling (20% of male victims) or not in a dwelling (15% of male victims) (Table 12).
- Seven victims were reported to have been killed in drug-related homicide cases in 2015-16, all of which were male (Table 13). None of the homicides recorded in 2015-16 were reported to have had a homophobic motivation and one was reported to have had a racial motivation (Table 14). In all homicide cases in the ten years leading up to 2015-16, 3% had a homophobic or racist motivation.
Use of alcohol and drugs
- In 2015-16, the alcohol and drug status of the accused was unknown for 43 persons, 66% of all accused. Two accused persons (3%) were reported to have been neither under the influence of alcohol nor drugs at the time of the homicide.
- Nearly a third (31%) of the 65 persons accused in homicide cases in 2015-16 were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and drugs at the time of the homicide. Of these 65, 14 (22%) were under the influence of alcohol, 6 (9%) were under the influence of both alcohol and drugs and none were under the influence of drugs alone.
- In the ten year period between 2006-07 and 2015-16, around half (48%) of all accused were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the homicide. This is similar for both males (48%) and females (50%).
- In 2015-16, in 78% of cases where the main accused was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the victim was also known to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Chart 11 shows that over the last ten years 24% (118) homicides, where the accused was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, occurred on a Saturday. Furthermore, more than half of homicides where the accused was under the influence of alcohol (58% or 291) occurred during the weekend ( i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday) (Table 18).
Chart 11: Distribution of the accused of homicide under the influence of alcohol  by day of the week 2006-07 to 2015-16
- This bulletin has reported a decreasing trend in homicides. Chart 12 shows this trend and compares it to the trend in attempted murder and serious assaults. This latter information is taken from the Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2015-16 bulletin. Over the ten year period between 2006-07 and 2015-16, the reduction in levels of homicide has broadly followed a similar fall in levels of attempted murder and serious assault.
Chart 12: Indices in selected crimes of violence, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16 (Index 2006-07 = 100)
- Chart 13 uses an index to evaluate the trends in homicide victimisation rates in Scotland and England & Wales  between 2006-07 and 2015-16 (Note that 2015-16 England & Wales data are not yet available). Direct comparisons with England & Wales are not possible due to uncertainty around different counting and classification conventions. However we can compare the change over time, which is broadly similar to the downward trend in Scotland since 2006-07.
Chart 13: Change in the victimisation rate in Scotland (2006-07 to 2015-16) and England and Wales (2006-07 to 2014-15) (Index 2006-07 = 100)
Email: Mark Bell